The Bills certainly weren't the most aggressive NFL club in the free agent market this offseason, but they did address some key deficiencies, both in terms of 2017 performance and in terms of numbers at certain positions. They also executed a pair of trades to increase their draft assets. Buffalobills.com takes a look at how the holes filled by GM Brandon Beane has reduced the burden on the Bills nine draft picks from having all the roster answers come April.
1 – Defensive interior pluggedPerhaps the most effective job done by Beane in free agency was shoring up the Bills defensive interior up front. With just two defensive tackles under contract, Buffalo's GM added two starting-caliber defensive tackles to the roster, re-signing Kyle Williams and signing Star Lotulelei away from his former employer, the Carolina Panthers.
Lotulelei should do wonders for Buffalo's run defense, which ranked a substandard 29th last season.
These moves don't rule out a defensive tackle being drafted, but certainly reduces the sense of urgency to pick one early in the draft.
2 – Draft capital improvedBuffalo already had a healthy number of draft choices prior to free agency, but after GM Brandon Beane made a pair of trades, the Bills eight picks in the 2018 draft were improved. The Bills traded Tyrod Taylor to the Cleveland Browns for the first pick in round three (No. 65), and Cordy Glenn and the 21st pick in the draft to the Cincinnati Bengals for their pick at 12th overall. Buffalo also sent a fifth-round pick (No. 158) to the Bengals in exchange for a sixth-round pick (No. 187).
The Bills now have five picks in the top 65 and six in the top 100. It affords Beane enormous flexibility, providing him with the ammunition to move almost anywhere on the draft board with a willing trade partner.
With the 2018 free agency period officially open, here's a look at Buffalo's pickups.
3 - Pass rush addressedBuffalo finished 29th in the league in sacks last season with 27 quarterback takedowns in 2017. The Bills made an early effort to address the deficiency coming to terms with free agent Trent Murphy (6-6, 259).
Murphy, 27, is coming off a nine-sack season in 2016 including three forced fumbles, after missing the entire 2017 campaign with a torn ACL. An outside linebacker for Washington in his first three NFL seasons, Buffalo is expected to deploy him at defensive end in their defensive scheme.
Known as a power rusher, Murphy will be a nice pass rushing option to pair with veteran Jerry Hughes and presumably rotate with Shaq Lawson.
The Bills also inked free agent DE Owa Odighizuwa, who will represent pass rush competition on the roster.
4 – QB position currently thinThe trade of Tyrod Taylor to Cleveland has left the Bills with just one quarterback on the roster in second-year signal caller Nathan Peterman.
Buffalo is expected to pursue a veteran quarterback on the free agent market, and then likely use one of their nine draft choices on a quarterback prospect as well to fortify the position heading into the 2018 season.
Joe Webb, who served as a receiver and quarterback in 2017 for the Bills, is now also a free agent.
5 – Special teams fortifiedWith free agents like Colt Anderson, Ramon Humber, Taiwan Jones and Deonte Thompson now on the free agent market, the Bills took steps to bolster their special teams units. In agreeing to terms with S Rafael Bush and LB Julian Stanford, the Bills now have two players who are well versed in the coverage and return games.